Private confidences about Sai Baba from V.K. Narasimhan
Posted by robertpriddy on March 10, 2012
Here I shall once more publicize facts which newcomers to the Sathya Sai Baba exposé may never discover. I concentrate on negative facts for they are the truly neglected facts, always covered-up and never mentioned by the Sai officials and office-bearers nor by any devotee who wanted to remain in favour. One of my personal motives is that I gave far to much of my life to promoting Sathya Sathya Sai Baba when he was deceiving me and everyone around him in the most demeaning manner. I wrote a very positive book about him (which he blessed) and now – after having penetrated the veils of indoctrination and deceit with which he surrounded himself I am setting the record straight (which he of course did not bless!). The massive positive propaganda for Sai Baba across the entire Internet and the major smear campaign against critics still needs to be consistently countered. It is an issue of protection of the innocent and the vulnerable.
After countless ‘darshans‘, and five long interviews (10-12 hours) during 15 years of regular visits to Sathya Sai Baba, I gradually learned that most of Sai Baba’s activities were kept strictly secret – even his personal opinions – except to his very few close inner circle of attendants. The supposed leaders in his Sathya Sai Organisation (both Indians and foreign but all subservient yea-saying followers without any ideas not taken from him, and not true leaders at all) were unable to scrutinize more than a tiny portion of his daily activities most of which (up to 90% of many days) were kept entirely secret. His servitors had to wait hand and foot on his beck and call and do what they were told, never more nor less. Strangely, this did not apply similarly to the once-famous newspaper editor, V.K. Narasimhan, with whom I had a long and deep friendship. He was as close as all but a couple of persons for a decade at least, and he told me much that he was not strictly allowed to tell – except that he could not bear the burden of it all alone and shared some of it with those very few whom he really trusted. (see here)
V.K. Narasimhan (known as ‘VKN’) died in March 2000, having lived his retirement at Sai Baba’s ashram where he edited the monthly journal of the movement (Sanathana Sarathi). His diverse experiences and facts known to insiders of the ashram which, for reasons of his own and others’ security, he was unable to speak openly, gradually opened my eyes to more and more discrepancies in the doctrine and claims of Sai Baba. I made copious notes every day through 9 long visits when at SB ashrams and so have been able to make scans of my diary pages, which I kept every day at the ashrams. Reading them I am struck by how much I trusted Sai Baba’s word while we were obviously being deceived, and how far I took the required self-censorship (not to question anything he said or did, but look rather at myself). Rationalising everything untoward to make it all fit the Procrustean bed of Sathya Sai Baba’s words, his work and ‘mission’ which were programmatically and necessarily above all suspicion (if one would be a true follower). Narasimhan, who was privately much troubled by doubts about many of Sai Baba’s assertions, was decisively instrumental in my eventually putting an end to it all for me.
One should understand that V.K.N. was initially VERY important for SSB’s credibility in various influential Indian circles… for VKN was revered widely in India in the 1970s for his famous single-handed and courageous stand as a journalist against Indira Gandhi’s ‘Emergency’ clamp-down. He was of the highest Brahmin caste (a Mylapore Brahmin) and knew most of the elite of India well and had been at college with Presidents and Prime Ministers and had been among the elite of India since he was imprisoned as a follower of Gandhi before Indian Independence. He came under an outright charm offensive from Sai Baba (he told me all the flattering details), one which lasted over two decades. He became a key channel in SSB’s observable insatiable reach for social and political influence. Narasimhan is known for having told many that he did not know why Baba was so kind to him, especially before he at length actually became something of a devotee in his 80s. But VKN could not allow himself quite to realise that his importance to Baba was a guarantor of truthfulness, and all the other social implications; he was a trusting soul with self irony who only really wanted to support the movements’ efforts to raise and educate the poor (like so many of us did). However, perhaps his main his weakness was that he liked to be flattered. He had no time for Sai Baba’s ‘International Chairman’, Indulal Shah, or the Sathya Sai Organisations’s bluster and often bogus or inflated claims.
VKN had owned a house in Madras, which he gave up at the wish of his Sai-devoted wife to take up residence at Sai Baba’s ashrams where he was a sought-after figure of importance and privilege – called by Sai Baba to attend him almost every day in the last decade… and when his wife died he was well looked after there. His reason for staying – apart from his wife’ total devotion to Sai Baba – was that he was positively impressed by Sai Baba’s accumulated social influence and movement because it was at least achieving some improvement in providing education where there was none before, and a fair measure of social support and health care to the under-priviliged, and this despite his lifelong scepticism towards gurus and swamis. As a journalist and traveler throughout India, he had seen incomprehensible sufferings of all kinds and the hopeless political inertia amid the wall-to-wall corruption of Indian politicians. The ashram seemed an oasis amid that desert, though far from being a perfect place. He only left the ashram some month or more after he became mortally ill in late 1999, moving to a spiritual retreat. That was just after the world-wide sex abuse allegations against Sai Baba became public through the Internet.
I was rather put off by VKN when I first met him because of the scepticism he expressed – openly and in quite a scathing way in the first of his lectures I attended, where he ridiculed the claim that Sai Baba was ‘omnipotent’ as absurd. (He was certainly right as events have proven to all but the remaining blind and deluded devotees). As a journalist he had seen a lot of the world and was temperamentally unable to adopt the gushing Pollyanna style of most lecturers and VIP devotees. His cynicism about most of Sai Baba’s claims was considerable, as I found out after hundreds of hours together with him through over a decade, during which he confided to me a vast amount of his life experiences and knowledge of India and its countless problems. We discussed the alleged Sai Baba miracles in which I then believed, but he refused to believe them – especially healing miracles – and on which he never commented as editor of Sanathana Sarathi. He consistently refused all accounts of dreams and healing sent to him as editor. He did come to consider the widespread belief in his supposed miracles to be important for the cause in that it encouraged donations and such like. As time went by and he learned more about the people involved and their manipulations and embezzlement, he became increasingly critical to many of the social projects as falling short of the claims made for them. He told me occasionally that he would never have ended up there but for his wife’s religious devotion to Sai Baba. As he grew more and more frail he relied on the care he received from a devotee relative (Usha) and others there, as he though leaving the place was no longer a realistic option and he had nowhere else to retire to. I am told that he virtually had to leave due to the lack of care when he fell mortally ill.
See also scans and notes:-